Summary: Hour-long Meditation based upon the final seven sentences of Christ on his Passion.
Meditation for Good Friday: the Final Seven Words of Jesus
(note that numbers after each section refer to time to complete each section, the meditation begins at 2pm on Good Friday)
Opening Hymn: English Hymnal 116: Throned Upon the Awful Tree
1. "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23: 34) (2:07)
Forgiveness is terribly easy to ask from others, and yet so very hard to give from ourselves. As Our Lord was nailed to the instrument of his passion, he spoke asking the Father’s forgiveness, whilst he freely forgave them himself, for as St. John repeatedly notes: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.
Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel: at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, Christ calls for repentance, metanoia to herald the Kingdom of God. His whole ministry is to seek to reconcile God and his creation once more, and the route to that reconciliation is forgiveness: The woman accused of adultery was told “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11), the paralysed man lowered through the roof told that “his sins were forgiven” (Mark 2:5), and the woman who anointed Our Lord’s feet was given the same dispensation (Luke 7:48): “your sins are forgiven”: simple words, such power, such authority.
We pray that we too may be forgiven, for our manifold sins. Forgiveness is part of God’s grace and is freely given, if we but have the courage to ask for it.
We pray that we may also forgive: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. It is not only those who bear hammer and nails against us whom we need to forgive; but those whose offenses are in comparison, quite small. “How many times should I forgive my brother, Lord? Seven times?” “Not seven, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).
“They know not what they do” … and neither do we.
2. "I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:34) (2:14)
The penitent thief is the only person recorded in the Scriptures who speaks directly to Christ, addressing him by his own name. Not Rabbi, not Master, not Lord, but simply and directly: Jesus.
Such honesty was not bourne out of overfamiliarity, or rudeness, but out of a common bond between them: the bond of the condemned cell. Our Lord and these thieves shared an intimacy which we can only hope to aspire to: to be alongside Christ, and more importantly, to have Christ alongside us in our hour of need.
When we glance away from our own crucifixion, we may just be able to glimpse Christ crucified alongside us; suffering as we suffer, suffering greater as he suffers not only our pain and anguish, but the pain, anguish and bitterness of the whole world. And we hope to hear those words, available to all who have the courage to ask of Christ: “You will be with me in paradise”
We pray for the faith to spot Christ alongside us, especially when we are so wrapped up in our own crucifixion to notice His; and we pray that we may have the opportunity, no matter how fleeting or transitory, to experience the intimacy of Christ: to feel his love and concern, to allow his Grace to guide us to our heavenly home.